TALKING HEADS

Sunday 15th May sees Mental Health Awareness Week draw to a close here in the UK.mental health foundation

In America, meanwhile, the entire month of May has been given over to highlighting this important subject. At Pearson, we believe it’s something that should last longer than a week or a month.

That’s because the issue lies at the heart of almost everything we do. Whether we’re designing a fully custom gravel machine, or simply fixing up your old shopper, our goal is the same: to encourage as many people as possible to ride a bike because cycling is a great way to maintain good mental health. It’s something we Pearsons have known for more than a century and a half (162 years, since you’re asking), since our founder, Tom Pearson, welcomed those first riders to his shop, in 1860.

pearson cycles sutton shop

Back then, Tom had little more to go on than a hunch, although as the trickle of happy riders began to flow through his doors in ever greater numbers he probably realised he was on to something. Thankfully, the science has caught up. The phenomenon generally described as a ‘runner’s high’ has been with us since the 1970s. Broadly speaking, it shows that any form of mild to vigorous exercise will release ‘feelgood’ hormones into the central nervous system (serotonin being the most well-known).


As part of our commitment to improving mental health, this year we launched our Miles Ahead campaign; because as the world’s oldest cycling company, we’re with you for every mile you ride. On 4th June, Pearson will be hosting the latest of our Inside Out series of group rides – and we’d like you to join us on (and off) the road. The event pretty much does what it says on the tin, inviting cyclists to get out of their heads (so to speak) and out on their bikes. With four organised routes, one for each season, this summer edition will take in 60km of mixed terrain, from pleasant country roads to satisfying stretches of gravel.

inside out

So, whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned vet, why not sign up to ride with a friend? Or come alone and make new ones because if riding your bike is good for your mental health, then riding with other people is even better. The science will back us on this, too. Cycling makes you feel good but riding in good company is beneficial for mind and body. When exercising, seeing a familiar face – even an unfamiliar one – has been proven to lower levels of cortisol, one of the mechanisms that regulates blood pressure. Riding with friends also releases dopamine, another of those feelgood hormones, so we like to think of a group ride as a kind of mental-health vaccine. 


But there’s something else, too, beyond the data; to paraphrase a Mitchell and Webb sketch (google it), it’s not rocket science. A bit of human interaction, just a few words of support, can make all the difference when you’re labouring up a climb or struggling into a headwind. It tells you that, even though things might be tough, you’re not alone. Which is a good lesson for life, let alone cycling.

minegoes


As we’ve said, helping people to improve their mental health through cycling is a long-term commitment for Pearson. That’s why we’ve also partnered with not one mental health charity but two. Action for Happiness (AFH) is an organisation that empowers people to maintain their own mental health. Providing events and advice throughout the year, AFH are confident that, for most of us, mental wellbeing is something can be learned. Like Pearson, they believe one of the best ways to boost your mood is to mix regularly with others. You know, actual human beings; in our screen-addicted society, we think that’s a vital message. 


Our other charity partner is the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), Britain’s leading charity in the sector. MHF’s work includes combating loneliness and depression by focusing on prevention. And one of the simplest and most effective ways of doing that is getting people together. So, sign up for June 4th, saddle up with Pearson and join us for the miles ahead.


Sign up for the summer edition of Inside Out 

Authored By Will Pearson
Will represents one half of the fifth generation of the Pearson dynasty. He boasts a riding career of almost 50 years, having beaten his siblings to staying upright on a two-wheeler at the age of two and a half. Coaxed out of bed on Sunday mornings to ride cyclo-cross most of his younger life, his interest in cycling is also focussed in road and gravel adventure riding. Chiefly responsible for Pearson bike geometry, design and specification.
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